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U.S.-Russia Proxy War in Ukraine: 

New Escalations Lurch Further into Nuclear Danger Zone 

Almost two and a half years ago, Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Sensing an opportunity to weaken an imperialist rival, Biden immediately and eagerly mobilized the NATO alliance to pour massive amounts of arms and other military aid into Ukraine. (NATO is a military alliance controlled by the U.S. whose members include nearly every European country.) 

The resulting war has been an inferno. Tens of thousands of people have been killed. Millions more have been mangled and traumatized; up to one-third of Ukraine’s people have been displaced from their homes. All this in a war in which the Ukrainian people have been transformed into proxies for American imperial interests. To speak plainly, the U.S. is playing the Ukrainian people, using them as cannon fodder in a global chess game against America’s equally gangster opponent, Russia.

Black smoke fills the horizon after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 17, 2024.


Smoke rises after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 17, 2024.    Photo: AP

A Dangerous New Phase of a Very Dangerous War

Now the war continues to lurch into an even more dangerous and destructive phase. Over the past few weeks Russia has launched a major offensive in Ukraine’s northeast. The Russian military now threatens Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv. Thousands of people are fleeing the area, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky cancelled all his upcoming foreign trips to deal with the emergency. 

In response, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to herald a new $60 billion infusion of military aid, on top of the $75 billion the U.S. has previously sent. 

Russia’s objectives in this offensive are not yet clear. But a major Russian advance either in Kharkiv or in the areas further south of it would significantly alter the dynamic of this war. It would increase the need of the U.S.-backed Ukrainians to counter Russia’s recent advances, and try to escalate the fight using weapons with greater range and lethality (or “kill-power”) and by expanding the number of soldiers it throws into the conflict. 

Macron Threatens to Send in NATO “Trainers”

One of Ukraine’s weaknesses is what the New York Times described as a “shortage of well-trained troops.” Recently, Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, and other NATO leaders have advocated ways of openly training new Ukrainian recruits in Ukraine itself. This would risk drawing the U.S. and Russia into direct conflict with each other in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

A direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia holds the extreme danger of the conflict spiraling out into a nuclear conflict.

The U.S. and its imperialist allies are trying to work their way around this problem, but without backing down. Last month NATO asked General Christopher G. Cavoli, an American who is the “supreme allied commander for Europe,” to develop a plan to train Ukrainian forces while maintaining a cover that would help justify it (Ukraine is not a member of NATO). 

Also, in June or July, U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets are expected to be operational in Ukraine. In March, Russian president Vladimir Putin said Russia would destroy F-16’s “wherever they are … F-16s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and we will also need to take that into account while organizing our combat operations.” 

A leading military official of Sweden, a NATO power which has a maritime border with Russia, responded, “If Putin wants a war with NATO, that’s how you start it. Then it will be a third world war.”

F-16 military fighter jets over Baltic Sea, for Ukraine.


In August 2023 the U.S. position changed and Biden allowed the U.S.’s imperialist allies in NATO to provide F-16s to Ukraine, and to train Ukrainian pilots in their use.     Photo: AP

Explosive Uncertainty

Explosive uncertainty surrounds this conflict now. Tensions and conflicts continue to erupt within both sides. About a month after the war in Ukraine began, Bob Avakian (BA) wrote an article that continues to have great relevance. It began with this: 

The “fog of war” refers to the fact that, in a situation of warfare, many things become obscured. To put it simply, it is often difficult to tell exactly what is happening.

Related to this is the fact that war, once begun, has its own dynamics: things often do not go the way that the people who started a war, or became involved in it, expected them to go. This has very heavy meaning in the current war in Ukraine, which involves not just Russia and Ukraine but also the imperialist alliance (NATO), headed by the U.S., in a “war by proxy” with Russia—providing massive amounts of arms to Ukraine and waging economic warfare (in the form of “sanctions”) against Russia, while heightening the military “readiness” of NATO countries, in particular those bordering or close to Russia.

This involves the very real danger that—deliberately, or through mistakes by one or both sides—this could lead to direct warfare between Russia and the U.S./NATO, which in turn could involve the use of nuclear weapons, even on a scale that would threaten the very existence of human beings throughout the world.

The horrible suffering being inflicted on the Ukrainian people is an imperialist war crime. The inflamed environment of Ukraine and Eastern Europe is a tinderbox—a potentially explosive situation—that could ignite more intense, more widespread war, all the way up to nuclear war. The entire capitalist imperialist system that is driving this war and threatening even worse must be overthrown. As BA also said: 

We, the people of the world, can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to continue to dominate the world and determine the destiny of humanity. They need to be overthrown as quickly as possible. And it is a scientific fact that we do not have to live this way.



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